This was my first year at the Fly Fishing Show in Denver. It was also my first year fly fishing, so I had a lot fun doing both.
For those who've never been. It's exactly what you think if you've ever been to any kind of expo or show before. Lots of booths with media, trips, materials sales, flies and tiers, casting demos, seminars and talks about a few dozen different topics, etc.
You can see Dave's opinion about the show in his blog
. He's got just a couple more years under the fly and show belt than I do, so we had some slightly different impressions and noticed some different things. Though we both liked it, thought it was worthwhile, and will be back next year.
Here's what I thought:
Tiers, tons of them, famous names, kids, guides, crazy flies, "normal" flies, tiny flies, authors, everything and just about everyone you can think of related to fly tying in the state was there. And man, are those guys cool to talk to. They're just tying and talking and enjoying themselves doing something they love. I tried to not take up too much of their time as I didn't have a fly budget, but meeting with Steve Schweitzer, David Pilatzke, and Rick Takahaski was a lot of fun. I got Steve's A Fly Fishing Guide to Rocky Mountain National Park
book this Christmas and plan to put it to good use this summer.
A lot of booths had good sales. Goretex came out with their next generation material so lots of big brand waders had 30-40% discounts. Tried on more than a couple pairs at the North Platte River Fly Shop (out of Casper, Wyoming) booth. Those guys were super helpful, and even talked me out of buying a pair that didn't fit right in the stocking. That's the kind of service where I remember the name and make a note to visit again.
I visited a few casting demos with as many that had useful info and presenters as those that didn't. There's a lot to appreciate about the presenter who arrives 20 minutes before hand to prep his gear and make some practice casts. I noted a couple of casting nuggets from Steve Rajeff for more accuracy and distance in my casts, though not necessarily at the same time.
In the Destination Theater were a lot of presentations about fly fishing trips, many of which in Colorado. Bill, Ron, and I went to Kirk and Linda Bien's "Flyfishing Rocky Mountain National Park after the Flood" The first half was full of good info about conditions in different regions of the park. I was happy to hear confirmed that Moraine Park is still fishing well, and was surprised to see video of them and their family catching trout in Estes Park while the flood was barely subsiding. A lot of the info about the flood's impact on fishing the Big Thompson can be found in Ben Swigle's blog Big Thompson Poised for a Comeback
Dave and Bill went to a presentation about the San Juan and southwest Colorado and were less than impressed. I heard similar comments from others throughout the day. I think it's a difference in expectations. I'm new to both the sport and the show, so I was eager to soak up everything. I think the OG's are done with that and just want solid information in a concise presentation. Or, like Dave, have been so many times that a lot of the info has been heard before. Easier said than done, especially when the presenters are selling trips at the same time as presenting the info.
Finally, beer and burgers were well priced. $12 got me one of each, so that's what I spent the whole day. I was very impressed with myself as there were all sorts of little $10-$15 goodies I would have loved to pick up. The waders mentioned earlier were the only thing I had a budget for. Next year, I'm making sure I have some fun money to bring along.
So, I had fun, learned some good stuff, found out I don't fit into regularly sized Simms waders, had a beer with some great guys, and shook a lot folks' hands I wouldn't have been able to otherwise... I'll be back next year certainly and I hope to see you there too.